Renaud, tester and co-designer of Solognac products with whom we are developing our future offer, is also a bow hunting expert and instructor providing us with information on this still little-known discipline.
Bow hunting is a shooting sport that can be pursued by stalking, lying in wait in a hide, or in a driven hunt, involving small game on the ground or in the air.
For Renaud, this difficult and demanding close-up hunting requires "material that is adapted and optimised for the type of game being pursued. You need a perfect knowledge of your territory and the habits of the fauna living there. It requires silence and absolute mimicry during the hunting action, good physical condition, regular shooting practice, and unfailing self-control."
French legislation regulates this type of hunting since 1995. It permits the taking of all types of game that can be hunted in France, from the smallest to the largest.
To be able to hunt with a bow in France, you must be in possession of a hunting licence, proof of annual validation, up-to-date insurance, and a bow hunting certificate issued after participation in a compulsory training day (JFO). This consists of a specific training session, provided by the departmental hunting federations to people over 14 years of age.
There are two families of bows: mechanical and traditional bows.
The mechanical bow, or compound bow due to its construction, enables greater shooting accuracy: thanks to a high arrow exit speed and the fitting of a sight. The aiming time will therefore be longer or shorter, while the effort required to pull the string is reduced.
The traditional bow, on the other hand, is designed for rapid, instinctive shooting without any aiming device.
The power of the bow depends on the type of game hunted and the archer's skill level.
For hunting big game, 45 pounds of power is the minimum required, although it can be as high as 70 pounds. The archer must also determine the draw length, an essential characteristic in adjusting the bow and choosing the arrows. It is measured in inches: by taking the distance of the extended arms, known as "a cross": from the middle finger on the left to the middle finger on the right, measure the distance, divide it by 2.5 and then by 2.54 to obtain the draw length in inches. For a given length/power ratio, a shaft stiffness is assigned. This is the determining factor in selecting the correct arrow.
Next, there are 3 types of arrows: carbon, aluminium, and wood.Arrows are made exclusively of carbon for the compound bow and those made of carbon, aluminium, or wood for the traditional bow. It should be noted that carbon is the most recommended material today because of its affordability, strength, straight flight, and accuracy.
For a compound bow, we recommend using arrows with plastic feathers. For the traditional bow, select arrows with a natural feather fletching.
For hunting big game and small game on the ground, the arrow should be fitted with a slat. With a compound bow, a triple- or quad-slat arrow with a weight of 100 or 125 grains is preferable. With a traditional bow, use a double-slated arrow weighing at least 125 grains.
It should be noted that when shooting small game in flight, it is mandatory to use a metal or rubber stun tip.
For the compound bow, equip yourself with a release. This is an accessory fitted with a trigger tail release that pinches the string in place of the fingers to release the arrow at the end of the arming process. This enables a more comfortable and accurate shot.
For the traditional bow, a gauntlet is generally used to protect the pads of the fingers that draw the string: index, middle, and ring fingers.
finally, for both types of bows, we recommend using an arm guard attached to the forearm to avoid injuries caused by the string coming into contact with the arm during the release.
As this type of hunting is enjoyed alone, for safety reasons, the law recommends maintaining a minimum distance of one kilometre between each hunter when stalking.
As with any other weapon, it is advisable to handle the bow carefully and safely. Never point the bow at anyone, a vehicle, or a house. When an arrow is loaded, aim the bow only towards the target. On a shooting range, make sure that the space between the archer and the target is completely clear. No one should be on the range or behind the target.
When retrieving arrows from the target, make sure everyone has finished shooting before moving towards the targets. When removing arrows from the target, make sure there is no one behind you.
Also make sure that you never draw your bow without any arrows in the nock. This can damage or even ruin your bow, or even provoke a serious injury.
Finally, we advise you to check the condition of your carbon arrows after each shot. The slightest crack or damage could cause it to shatter on the next shot, resulting in a serious personal injury accident with carbon shards.